Roundup: Pilot Week, Lisa Wilkinson, Netflix viewership & subs + more

Lisa Wilkinson

• Chris Hemsworth, Castle Rock, Katrina Warren, and Jessika Power


Chris Hemsworth to visit Cowra after tourism campaign caught his attention

Thor star Chris Hemsworth has agreed to visit a town in the New South Wales’ Central West after it asked him to become its ambassador, reports News Corp’s Mathew Murphy.

An online campaign called “Get Chris to Cowra” has managed to catch the eye of the Hollywood star, who has agreed to visit the town of 13,000 people next year.

Cowra locals were stunned that their online campaign, which was designed to help the town hit by drought and a hit to tourism, actually worked.

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Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock revives film division with $175M fund

Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock Entertainment is relaunching its storied film division with a $175 million film fund that will allow the company to develop, produce and finance movies for a worldwide audience, reports The Hollywood Reporter‘s Pamela McClintock.

The banner has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. for theatrical content, in addition to Warners’ existing deal with Castle Rock for television.

Reiner will continue on as Castle Rock CEO, with Michele Reiner and Matthew George serving as co-presidents.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Rob Reiner said in a statement. “The Castle Rock lighthouse has always signaled a safe harbor for the creative community. With this relaunch, we will be able to continue the tradition of providing an environment for filmmakers to do their best work.”

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Stunning twist in Lisa Wilkinson’s pay claims

It’s the great equal pay dispute that TV star Lisa Wilkinson reveals in her new book led to the termination of her contract at the Today show, but insiders have revealed a stunning plot twist: she earned double the salary of host Karl Stefanovic for many years, reports News Corp’s Samantha Maiden. understands that when she first signed with Nine in 2006 she was earning more than $700,000. The fresh-faced Stefanovic, who had just returned from a reporting stint in Los Angeles earned less than half that amount for years as the TV couple co-hosted Nine’s breakfast TV program.

In a new extract from her autobiography It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This, Wilkinson claims that towards the end of their decade-long run as co-hosts, Stefanovic struck a new deal that meant he would be earning $2 million – more than double what she was earning at the network.

But multiple sources familiar with the contract negotiations at the time have told that while there was a longstanding pay gap between the two hosts, it was the other way around.

They insist that for half a decade it was Stefanovic, not Wilkinson, who was getting far less money than the other co-host. In fact, he was earning half what she was signed on for by then CEO Eddie Maguire and his “best mate” Jeff Browne.

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Was Today really regularly winning when Lisa Wilkinson left Nine?

I suppose the thing about book excerpts is that they are just that… an excerpt, writes TV Tonight‘s David Knox.

Do they really give us full context?

I haven’t read Lisa Wilkinson’s new book so all I can really do is take the released comments at face value.

There’s been much conjecture around comments regarding her work relationship with co-host Karl Stefanovic.

Yesterday it was even suggested that at one point Wilkinson was earning more than her counterpart, which contradicts the headlines around a gender pay imbalance.

But another line jumped out at me.

Stefanovic proposed a deal on the one brokered by the cast of Friends, who lobbied for equal pay together rather than negotiating individual contracts because they recognised that their combined chemistry was integral to its success.

“I was surprised and flattered he thought that about us,” Lisa Wilkinson writes. “The ratings didn’t lie, though. We were regularly winning.”

So how did the numbers stack up?

Lisa left Nine on 16 October 2017, which was Week 34 of survey year.

At that point Today had won 9 weeks outright -many by a whisker- while Sunrise would win 23. They tied on 2 weeks.

That’s on metro viewing of course, which is the standard, while Sunrise won them all when regional is added.

For most of the year the shows were neck and neck, but Sunrise had more than double Today in weekly wins. A year earlier Nine had crowed about the importance of weeks won.

In 2016 both shows nearly headed to the Federal Court over after Today claimed the most weeks won (in metro). Seven objected to claims of being “Australia’s #1” given they led with regional added in and that the metric in television is an annual average not weeks won.

Sanity prevailed at both sides agreed not to get legal.

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Pandemic pushes Pilot Week to 2022

10 has confirmed its planned Pilot Week will now screen in 2022 due to the difficulties of filming through recent lockdowns, reports TV Tonight.

Executive vice president of ViacomCBS ANZ, Beverley McGarvey tells TV Tonight, “It’s definitely happening. We’ve picked all the pilots. We’re in production with some, and in development with others.

“We honestly just can’t get it made this year because the COVID restrictions are too hard to make pilots in. It’s hard enough to get established shows.

“So we’ve just delayed it until next year, but we won’t change what we’re doing. We will do the shows that we intended to do.

“Some of them involve a host from Melbourne and Sydney and we didn’t want to do a pilot without everything being the best that it could be. It will happen it’s just COVID delayed.”

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Netflix to change how it measures a title’s viewers post-‘Squid Game’

Netflix again touted the runaway success of Squid Game in its quarterly earnings report — while at the same time saying it will change the way it publicly reveals viewing data, reports The Hollywood Reporter‘s Rick Potter.

In the streamer’s third quarter letter to shareholders, Netflix says that in the future it will report total hours viewed within 28 days of release, rather than the two-minute “view” metric it’s used for the past couple of years.

“We think engagement as measured by hours viewed is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction,” the shareholder letter reads. “It also matches how outside services measure TV viewing and gives proper credit to rewatching.”

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Netflix adds 4.4M new subscribers in third quarter, surpassing projections

Netflix added 4.4 million new subscribers in the third quarter of 2021 for a total of 214 million paid subscribers, topping the company’s modest projections set last quarter for a net subscriber add of 3.5 million, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.

The Asia-Pacific region proved to be the largest contributor to Netflix’s subscriber growth, with the region accounting for more than half, or 2.2 million, of the quarter’s net subscriber adds, according to a shareholder letter released on Tuesday. Europe, the Middle East and Africa contributed 1.8 million subscribers for the quarter. In Latin America, Netflix added around 300,000, while U.S./Canada accounted for roughly 70,000 new paid subscribers, bouncing back from last quarter’s loss of around 400,000 subscribers.

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Katrina Warren: TV vet takes aim at Sydney dog owners

TV vet Katrina Warren has taken aim at Sydney dog owners, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

Warren has launched an extraordinary spray on social media, claiming dog owners need to be more responsible.

“I love dogs, I do, and I’m lucky enough to have made a career out of working with dogs,” Warren began in the wordy Facebook on her public page.

“The recent increase in dog numbers means there are more people than ever enjoying the company of dogs, but also more dogs than ever are out and about in public places. Some of the behaviour I am witnessing by some dog owners is driving me more than a little crazy.”

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MAFS bride Jessika Power sets sights on Warnie’s son

Jessika Power has continued sledging cricket great Shane Warne after exposing that he had slid into her DMs, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

In another new promo for Seven’s upcoming Big Brother VIP series, the former Married at First Sight star said Warne’s son Jackson was more famous than him.

Jackson last year competed on brutal military style reality series SAS Australia.

“I had Shane Warne in my inbox the other week,’’ Power said.

“He’s a freak. Some of the things he was sending me I was like ‘inappropriate’.

“Seriously that was my dad’s favourite cricketer and now he’s trying to sleep with me.

“I mean your son’s more famous now isn’t he? What’s his number, give me a ring.”

The cheeky Power also said tattooed former AFL star Dayne Beams had caught her eye. When Big Brother tells her that he’s married and fellow contestant Thomas Markle Jr is single, she just says “hmmm”.

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